FUN FACTS … about the Wallace House collection

FUN FACTS … about the Wallace House collection

If you’ve ever looked in the Wallace House dining room, you’ve seen them: a pair of side chairs, sitting under the picture of Mary Maddox. They aren’t prominently displayed, because they were made after George Washington stayed at the Wallace House, in fact after the Revolutionary War was over – probably about 1790.

But they do have an interesting connection to Washington, nonetheless. The New York Historical Society owns a chair from Federal Hall, New York City, which was the chair George Washington sat in the day he was inaugurated as our first President. Follow this link to see it: NYHS Washington’s inaugural chair Vice President John Adams sat near him, in a similar chair.

If you look closely at the chairs from the Wallace House collection and George Washington’s inaugural chair, you will see that that they are very similar indeed – in fact they clearly come from the same set. The upholstery has been changed, and ours are side chairs, while Washington’s chair was a more authority-laden armchair, but otherwise they are identical.

Join us later this year when Nick Stagliano, a graduate student at Parsons School of Design/Cooper Hewitt Design Museum gives a lecture presentation on George Washington’s inaugural chair! He is sure to mention the surprising coincidence of the Wallace House’s owning chairs from the same set, and may be able to retrace the path they took before they came to sit here, in the Wallace House dining room, under the image of Mary Maddox.

Hammered Dulcimer, popular instrument of the 18th century

IMG_6664.jpgBalladeer Linda Russell will perform at the Old Dutch Parsonage this Saturday, January 20th at 7:30 pm.  One of the 18th century period instruments that she will perform with is the hammered dulcimer.

So what is a hammered dulcimer? It’s an instrument with strings stretched over a resonant sound board, often trapezoidal in shape.  The musician will often stand before the instrument with a small mallet hammer in each hand, striking the strings to produce sound.

The hammered dulcimer was brought into Europe by the Spanish Moors during the 12th century A.D. from its believed origins in the Middle East and North Africa. Its popularity continued throughout Europe during the Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance.  The first known written reference to the instrument in America dates to the early 1700’s.

Hammered dulcimers were often built at home or in small shops, not in factories like pianos.  This resulted in more regional variances in the instruments.  The popularity of the instrument continued into the first half of 20th century when it virtually disappeared.

To register for Saturday’s concert, call 908-725-1015 or email


For more information on Linda Russell: Linda Russell

Source: Smithsonian article on hammered dulcimers

Balladeer to Perform Songs of the Harvest at Old Dutch Parsonage

Fall Concert at the Old Dutch Parsonage: Celebrating the Harvest

Join balladeer Linda Russell as she sings songs of harvest-time. Playing the hammered and mountain dulcimers, penny whistle and guitar, Linda sings and plays ballads, love songs, dance tunes, and working songs written in early America and brought over from the Old World

 Click to hear excerpt of Linda Russell playing “Meeting of the Waters” on hammered dulcimer.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

1:30 pm

Old Dutch Parsonage

71 Somerset Street

Somerville, NJ 08876

$10 per-person suggested donation to attend this program.

Advance registration recommended. Call 908-725-1015 or email to register. Please register early, as seating is limited. 

While performing on guitar, mountain and hammered dulcimers, penny whistle and limberjack, Linda’s rich singing voice illuminates our American heritage through patriotic anthems, broadsides, hymns and dance tunes.

Linda Russell is a balladeer who brings America’s past to life through song. She has served for many years as musical historian for the National Park Service at Federal Hall National Memorial and has performed at historic sites throughout New York and New Jersey.


Upcoming Event: “Land, Faith & Slaves: Shared Heritage of the Hardenbergh family, Rutgers University and the Dutch Reformed Church”

Upcoming Event: “Land, Faith & Slaves: Shared Heritage of the Hardenbergh family, Rutgers University and the Dutch Reformed Church”

LandFaithSlavestalk2Join us for a fascinating discussion on the connections between the Rev. Hardenbergh (principal founder of Rutgers University) family and great African American abolitionist leader Sojourner Truth, at one time their slave, plus stories of other early slave-holding leaders of Rutgers College.

Saturday, June 17, 2017
2:30 pm
Old Dutch Parsonage

Speakers include:

  • John Coakley, Feakes Professor of Church History, Emeritus, at New Brunswick Theological Seminary
  • Thomas J Frusciano, Rutgers Library faculty and Vice President of the Rutgers Living History Society
  • Helene Van Rossum, Public Services and Outreach Archivist at Rutgers Libraries Special Collections

There is a suggested five dollar donation to attend this program.

Advance registration is advised.

Call 908-725-1015 or email to register. Please register early, as seating is limited.

Candle Light Tours

Enjoy Candle Light Tours and Music at the
Wallace House & 
Old Dutch Parsonage
Friday, December 9, 2016
6 pm – 9 pm
Hourly group tours by candle light,
featuring costumed interpreters,
cooking demonstrations & period music.
Join Mrs. Mary Wallace when she steps out of her portrait frame to guide visitors around her home and share personalized insights on the memorable winter of 1778, when she and her husband John Wallace shared their home with General George Washington and his entourage.    
In the Wallace House kitchen wing, re-enactor Kathy Ormosi will be presenting hearthside cooking, and discussing the foods of the season.
The tour will adjourn to the nearby Old Dutch Parsonage, to listen to Robert Mouland   perform period music on antique instruments and to enjoy light refreshments.
Fee: $10 per-person. 
All visitors must register for this program in advance. Visitors may register for the 6pm, 7pm or 8pm tour. Each hourly tour will be limited to ten visitors per group. Call 908-725-1015 to register. Please register early.
71 Somerset Street, Somerville, NJ 08876
908-725-1015        ab




George Washington Birthday Event

In celebration of George Washington’s birthday, Jim Kurzenberger, Historic Preservation Specialist of the Wallace House and Old Dutch Parsonage, will conduct a Headquarters Theme tour of the Wallace House.  Visitors will be presented with an experience that emphasizes the details of General Washington’s stay at Hope Farm, the country seat of John Wallace.  The tour will last one hour.

Date:  Sunday, February 21, 2016
Time:  2 PM
Reservations required.  Call 908-725-1015 to reserve.

Middlebrook 101

The presentation “Middlebrook 101:  A Comprehensive Look” by Jim Kurzenberger, Historic Preservation Specialist of the Wallace House and Old Dutch Parsonage is only one week away!  Be sure to come at 7 PM on Thursday, February 18th to not miss out on this very informative look at the Forgotten Cantonment.  Please email us or call 908-725-1015 to reserve since seating is limited.  A $10 donation is requested from non-members, and members are asked to renew their annual memberships at this time.

Light refreshments will follow, and then the Wallace House and Old Dutch Parsonage Association will hold its Annual Meeting. New members are always welcome.

Exciting news!

Announcing…the Wallace House and Old Dutch Parsonage Association website!  

As we reported at our last annual meeting, in 2014 we applied for a mini grant for the development of a website.  We were successful in that effort and received a project grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.  We have been working very hard on developing it with David Bell e-Designs and we invite you to visit
to check it out!  Keep checking back on it as it is still a work in progress and more materials will be added.


“Somerville Through Time” Authors Event

Linda and Bob Barth, along with Jim Sommerville, have recently published a new photo history book on Somerville.  The book, “Somerville Through Time,” features “then and now” images of the town including a number of interior photos of the Wallace House that show its gradual restoration to the authentic historic site we know today.  Linda and Bob will be showcasing their work at the Van Horn House as part of the Heritage Trail Sunday Speaker Series, February 7 at 2 pm.  The lectures are open to the public and free.  Copies may be purchased there or people can order online: People can order online at